Two Wheels Bad, Four Wheels Good Staff
by Staff
Two wheels bad, four wheels good
By Step Vaessen in Guangzhou, China

The ban on motorcycles in Guangzhou came
into effect from January 1

The southern Chinese city of Guangzhou has got rid of more than 320,000 motorcycles from its streets - literally overnight - to reduce air pollution after government surveys found it to be the country's most polluted city.

But some suspect Guangzhou's car industry, the fifth biggest producer in China, had lobbied for the ban to boost sales.

The ban, which took effect on January 1, has crippled small businesses and forced hundreds of thousands to look for affordable alternatives such as the bicycle.

For many, motorcycles have long been the main means of transport.

Many residents fear losing their livelihood because of the new regulation despite the government's promise to create new jobs.

A motorcycle taxi driver who has been in Guangzhou for three years told Al Jazeera he would now have to leave town to find another job.

But not everyone has complied with the new law. A handful of motorcycle taxis were seen operating after Monday's ban came into effect.

Distress sale

The ban has also created a second-hand market where owners are forced to sell old and even new machines at low prices to farmers from out of town.

Small traders complained they were suffering losses because they were unable to transport supplies cheaply after being forced to sell their motorcycles which, if unsold, will be officially confiscated after two weeks.

Although not everyone in Guangzhou believes that pollution is the main reason for the ban, nobody dares to openly complain, and people have given up on their bikes for fear of the law.

But some city dwellers said they could already feel a difference only a few days after the ban.

One resident said: "The air quality has improved and there is less noise. The outlook of the city is completely new. I am sure it will get even better over the weeks to come."

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